Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lendorology: What IS the Secret of Bone Hill?

Anyone who can read a blog archive will realize that for the last several months I've been slacking off even by my own uninspired standards.  Largely this has had to do with real world distractions like job and family but, at least initially, this also had to do with a side project that was draining off most of my game-related energies in the beginning of the year.

Where can I buy spandex in Restenford?
I had just received a real-live, TSR-produced copy of  Lenard Lakofka's L1 The Secret of Bone Hill set on Lendore Isle. I won't pretend to be one of those old timers who believes that this is a classic of the golden age--indeed, I have to confess that I've neither run nor played this bad boy either back in the 80's or in my recent gaming resurgence.

While it follows the generic structure of a village setting with adventure locales nearby a la Keep on the Borderlands, Village of Hommlet, and probably some others, I don't think it was the most thoroughly conceived module TSR put out.  It is riddled with inconsistencies and odd notions that would never, I think, have made it through the editorial process in latter day TSR.  And this may very well be what makes it so interesting as literature. 

A close reading raises a whole host of questions such as why is there a casino inside a nigh-impenetrable compound hidden deep in the woods?  Why does the wizard have a lease on the Baron's tower?  And who keeps the lawn mowed on top of Bone Hill? The lords of Lendore don't offer an explanation to these mysteries; some things, one must suppose, just are.  These open ended oddities make it the single most fascinating read of any old school module.

So, using a pen and a spiral-bound notebook, I wrote a bunch of essays--warning: I was once a history major--about the mysteries of Lendore.  Some of them (actually only 2 so far) have been transcribed to non-caveman format and can be read over at The Restenford Project if you're interested.

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